Self combustion

Afterwards
we gather ash
of bridges burned
of letters fed to flames
of us as bones and sinews
of thirst and what had been…

Afterwards
we cannot blame the blaze.
we cannot charge the fervor
of our pyre now,
we cannot cope with curses of our guilt
to kindle flares on flesh
we cannot change what’s been…

Afterwards
we ink the sooty epitaphs
on sorrow walls and in the soil
freezing in failing ember of what’s been…

Combustion by Alberto Burri

Today Victoria hosts at dVerse and wants us to write about anything relating to fire. The bar opens at 3 PM EST.
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November 27

21 responses to “Self combustion

  1. Bingo, brother–bang on. The meat sack we wear, when we have finished with it, belongs in flames, not in some gilded silk-lined coffin; like the Buddhists, the Vikings, and others. This is a very powerful piece, full of quotable lines–the listing works well, and the free verse soars.

  2. Wow. That is mighty powerful. And I love that you called it “Self-Combustion,” which makes me imagine this is about a person with multiple personalities, talking to him/herself — trying to pick up the pieces and repair the damage of all that has transpired while switching from one to the other. I think this must be quite apt.

    I used to read a blog written by a woman with DID. Every day or two, a different one of her identities would take over and totally change her blog. Some posts would disappear, or there would be an embarrassed explanation or apology post for what one of her others had done. It was quite fascinating. She even wrote while hospitalized; she was a danger to herself, thought she tried to live independently.

  3. I love all the different forms of fire you managed to include here, the “sooty epitaph” and the “blaze” and “pyre”. You really took the prompt and ran with it, creating such a powerful, almost mantra-like poem!

  4. The repetition of ‘Afterwards’ and ‘we cannot’ is effective, Björn, and the way the list of burnt items builds up to it. I like the sound of ‘the fervor of our pyre’ and ‘kindle flares on flesh’, sounds that evoke burning . I love the lines:
    ‘we ink the sooty epitaphs
    on sorrow walls and in the soil’.

  5. This is so effective, Bjorn. As we deal with the ashes of our past choices–good or bad–we can only accept what has been, perhaps make amends to ourselves and others, and learn. The way you express this truth is true poetry.

  6. We certainly create our fires – the destruction – and then reap the sorrow and regret. Usually try to blame it others! You always write powerfully.

  7. once a fire is started we can’t put it out, it will leave its mark, it will destroy something, we need to be so careful, a poem full of advice not to live with regret

  8. guilt is a terrible thing when it butchers us in solitude; how amazingly poets romanticize the darkest of things

  9. A powerful poem. I agree with many others about the effective use of repetition. These are the lines that resonated with me most,
    “Afterwards
    we ink the sooty epitaphs
    on sorrow walls and in the soil.”

  10. The ash of self-destruction–powerful. I like the repetitive words. I missed the title at first, and I thought it could have been about war–and that type of delusion.

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